SPECTRE Teaser: Gold Bond Works Hard For You


 

Well, that was kind of anti-climactic, but quite intriguing. No explosions, sexy ladies or snappy quips to be found here at all. just a looming sense of a dead-serious Bond film looking to be the most memorable on of the Daniel Craig era. The continuity in the last few Bond films has been at least more or less coherent and consistent, so SPECTRE has that going for it. Of course,the gadget-loving Bondies who want the less serious JB on screen will probably wait a bit, see what the reviews say this November and still complain if they’re mostly positive. You can’t please everyone, I suppose. Anyway, let me shut up before someone SMERSHes me in the face with a Thunderball.

Blu-Ray Review: Mark of the Devil

mark of the devil BR DVDHow frightening. I’m actually old enough to remember seeing ads for Mark of the Devil in newspapers as a kid and while far too young to see it, wanting to just because of the free vomit bag handed out to viewers. I recall either a cousin or other relative seeing it and showing off their unused bag while they bragged about how violent the film was. Hey, it was after all “RATED V FOR VIOLENCE”… just not by the MPAA. That snazzy bit of marketing was courtesy Hallmark Releasing, the films distributor that packed houses for years during the 70’s and 80’s by retitling all sorts of sleazy to amazing genre movies.

Flash forward maybe a dozen or so years and I finally got to see the movie thanks to a fairly lousy quality VHS tape copy that had a few other horror flicks on it (one of which was Twitch of the Death Nerve, another Hallmark released flick). I certainly didn’t need a vomit bag, but the film’s overall tone and torture scenes did get under my skin (pun intended). Over time, I’d almost forgotten about the film thanks to only seeing it that one time, but thanks to Arrow Video and MVD, here I am back in front of a television with a superior in every way possible Blu-Ray version.

While not as relentlessly gory as more modern horror films, Michael Armstrong’s classic and controversial film is more of a “you are there” trip back in time than a traditional fright flick. Shot in and around Austria, the film’s lush outdoor landscapes are contrasted by the brutal torture segments that won’t have you tossing your cookies at all, but maybe reaching for a pillow to hide behind or stuff in your ears as you avert your eyes from some onscreen nastiness.

Continue reading

Blu-Ray Review: Day of Anger

Day of Anger BRDVDWhen UK-based Arrow Video finally decided to launch in North America this year, it picked a trio of excellent films to kick off what’s going to be a wild run of classics and desired library additions. As all three films arrived at the same time, I had to flip a coin to choose which one to review first and Tonino Valerii’s magnificent 1967 spaghetti western Day of Anger (I giorni dell’ira) won the review draw.

This was one of those genre films I’d heard about for years but have never seen until this beautifully restored (from the original 35mm Techniscope camera negative) version and it’s very highly recommended whether or not you’re a western fan. Excellent performances all around, some stirring set pieces, excellent art direction and cinematography all wrapped up with a superb Riz Ortolani score that will stick in your head for days makes this one a must-see (and must buy if you’re a collector). Continue reading

Film Review: Memory Lane

Memory Lane MPPacking in a compelling story that’s part thriller and murder mystery with a supernatural bent into seventy minutes is a tricky thing to do well. Nevertheless, Memory Lane is one of those odd yet impressive little indie films deserving of a wider audience. Director Shawn Holmes gets some decent mileage from his ridiculously small budget of $300, making a flawed yet powerful, emotion packed ride. While the film has echoes of Memento, Flatliners and oddly enough, Groundhog Day, that small amount of money spent doesn’t exactly buy you always stellar acting or prime locations to shoot in.

The cast of eager unknowns does what they can with the melodramatic material, but some are better than others in conveying the dense but compact script. The brief running time means some plot points get slimmed down or booted in the logic balls to make way for story advancement with the clock ticking away. But if you go in with no expectations, you may end up enjoying this one a lot more than you thought. When Nick (Michael Guy Allen), a PTSD afflicted Afghanistan veteran decides to end his life after his girlfriend Kayla (Meg Braden) takes hers, he sees a vision of what looks like her being murdered. Brought back to life by some friends, Nick realizes he “needs” to die again and again in order to find out what actually happened to the love of his life… Continue reading

Film Review: Motivational Growth

Motivational Growth Blu-Ray Cover“The Mold Knows Jack, The Mold Knows…”

Talking about a horror movie about a huge talking fungus being the least oddball thing about it is tricky business. All I’ll say is Don Thacker’s unconventional psychological freak-out Motivational Growth needs to be seen to be believed. And even after you’ve seen it, you’ll probably still think you were hallucinating the whole thing. The film is one of those low-budget indies where the pure craft and ingenuity on display outstrip the meager budget and you’ll probably find yourself hooked in right from the start because you’re hit over the head right away with some truly striking, memorable visuals.

All I know is within the first five or ten minutes of fake TV shows I saw what looked like a fake TV commercial for a fake anime adventure/shooter hybrid game called Starr Mazer. My eyeballs did a double-back flip and I wrote that name down in the notepad I keep nearby for reviews. If it was just animation created for the film, it was a genius move on Thacker’s part. If it was an actual game, well… I had to find out what I could play it on. When I looked up that fake game later, I found that there actually IS an anime adventure/shooter hybrid called Starr Mazer. In fact, it’s also one of Thacker’s many side projects.

But let’s keep the rest of this review about this bizarre, near brilliant film… Continue reading

Random Film of the Week: Horror High

Horror High aka The Twisted Brain MPIt’s pretty cool to see a film you grew up watching a few times in the late 70’s and early 80’s pop up again thanks to it now being in the public domain and completely uncensored. That said, it’s too bad the low-budget cheapie known as The Twisted Brain on TV and Horror High when it was in theaters hasn’t been restored to a more fitting print. The version I have on one of the Mill Creek Entertainment box sets is in such ratty condition that it looks as if were clawed up by the transformed teenage monster out for revenge.

Still, even in that messed up print found on the DVD*, Larry N. Stouffer’s 1974 film still makes for some hilarious, bloody good fun. You’re not getting anything resembling a “best” genre film here at all. It’s just a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde variant meets I Was a Teenage Werewolf and that’s that. Continue reading

Film Review: WYRMWOOD: Road of the Dead

WyrmwoodROTDposterLike a shambling dead thing encased in a suit of the strongest armor, the zombie in popular culture is pretty unstoppable even at this point of over-saturation. That said, it’s a fine day indeed when someone comes up with a new angle on the undead while making a crowd pleasing viewing experience worth running out and catching in a theater or owning on a disc down the road. Welcome to WYRMWOOD: Road of the Dead, director Kiah Roache-Turner’s first (and hopefully not last) film that deserves a place in horror fan’s still beating hearts.

As that poster to the left states, what you’re getting is more or less Mad Max meets Dawn of the Dead, but the film is a lot more than that handy to memorize tagline suggests. Co-writers Tristan Roache-Turner, Kiah Roache-Turner have cooked up a fast-paced action flick that blends biting wit and dramatic bits just about perfectly. A cast of likable thrust into their post-zombie apocalyptic heroics characters, some truly nasty villains and yes, hordes of zombies keep things pumping and the film never wears out its welcome even when it deftly ventures into cliche territory. Continue reading

Film Review: CUT!

CUT MPJust when you think the modern Hollywood horror film has been all tapped out, along comes one of those movies that keeps you guessing even if you think you know what’s coming. Director/co-writer David Rountree tosses some tasty ideas into his chunky horror stew that will keep you hooked in and guessing right up until the double (or is it triple?) back-flip ending. It’s tricky to discuss the film in detail without spoiling a few of its twists and turns, but if you’re paying attention you may see a few of the surprises coming.

That said, if you go in with expectations of yet another slasher film, it’s a good sign that the movie shoots you down a few predictable paths before whipping the red carpet from underneath you much more than you’d think. Rountree also stars in the film as Travis Simon, an employee of a film equipment rental shop who works with Lane (David Banks), an ex-con with a rather nasty disposition and a particularly unsettling hobby. When Travis decides to make a low-budget horror film with Lane’s help, let’s just say things go predictably awry and downhill fast. A little accidental death during the making of their film doesn’t deter the pair from continuing their project and in fact, spurs Lane on as he starts taking things a bit too seriously. Continue reading

Memory Lane Trailer: Be Still, My Beating Heart (Once More)


 

Question of the day (or at least the very second you’re reading this): Would you kill yourself (and a few times at that) in order to solve the murder of someone you love? That’s the somewhat shocking premise of Memory Lane, a thriller coming to Blu-Ray/DVD on March 24, 2015 courtesy of MVD Visual and Wild Eye Releasing.

Memory Lane MP
 

How’s this for a plot:

“When PTSD-plagued war vet Nick returns home and finds that his finance Kayla has committed suicide, he decides to take his own life, but what he sees in flashbacks moments before he is resuscitated leads him to believe Kayla was murdered. Now Nick must travel back and forth between our world and the afterlife in a search of her killer – but to do it, he will need to die over and over again.”

Memory Lane has already been compared to films such as Memento, Primer and Pi, and that’s some pretty decent company, I’d say. Of course, I’d probably add in references to everything from Flatliners, Jacob’s Ladder and Groundhog Day (minus the humor, of course), but I haven’t yet seen this flick. I want to, though. The premise is intriguing enough to get me to want to sit down with this from start to finish, something not a lot of modern horror-like films do.

Poltergeist Trailer: Ghosts in the Shell of the Pedigree of Diminishing Returns

Poltergeist BIG Banner 


 

Okay, the only reason I’m giving this remake the time of day is because I like Sam Rockwell in anything he’s done. That said, I’m not sure Poltergeist needed a remake at all, given the original still holds up to a good extent as a classic horror film. Granted, with Sam Raimi producing and Gil Kenan (Monster House, City of Ember) behind the lens, this remake is bound to do a few really interesting things with the concept. At least we know there will be plenty of CG effects, some of which look like practical ones.

The main problem I see with the new film is what happens afterward. I’m gathering this is more a reboot that pretends the original film never existed as opposed to a remake that hints at the old film. Opinion time: the other films in the original series weren’t all that good and the TV series went way off into weird-land (although it did have and has a rather loyal fan base). If this does well at the box office (and it should), expect the inevitable sequel train to roll onwards. If there are sequels, I’d bet you a nickel that Rockwell won’t come back for seconds and has to be replaced by a new actor. Unless he’s needing a new house, boat or train (or all three) and can be easily nabbed to return for a bigger paycheck, of course. Of course, I can see Fox deciding to take this ghost train on the road and greenlight a sequel or sequels that follow other angry ghosts across America trying to get the point across that you don’t build your new housing on top of their old dead heads.

Eh, we’ll see what’s what soon enough. Color me tentatively intrigued for now.